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Francona, Matsuzaka clear the air

Francona, Matsuzaka clear the air

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BOSTON -- A day after expressing disappointment that Daisuke Matsuzaka publicly criticized the Red Sox's training methods, manager Terry Francona reached out to his right-hander in a lengthy phone conversation Wednesday that seemed to improve the state of mind of both parties.

Matsuzaka is in Florida rehabbing his right shoulder and overall physique with an eye toward returning to the Boston rotation in September.

"I actually spent a pretty good deal of time with him on the phone this morning, which I think was probably important," Francona said. "I let him talk a little bit, which he actually did, in English, which I think, was [a case of Matsuzaka] making the effort, which I thought was pretty cool."

Francona seemed to feel far better about the situation than on Tuesday, when the controversial story first came out.

"He understood how we felt," Francona said. "He was trying to make some points about probably being a little bit regretful. Again, I probably need to not speak for him. That's not fair. And the points I made to him were, 'Yeah, this is how we felt. Now, where do we go from here?'

"Because ultimately, that's way more important to me, or to us. 'OK, we had a bad couple of days. Things didn't go the way we wanted. How do we make them better and where do we go from here?' That's always how we feel. I think that we had a real good day."

As upset as the Red Sox were with Matsuzaka's method to revealing his displeasure, Francona made it clear to the pitcher that it was nothing that needed to linger.

"That would be a mistake on my part," Francona said. "I don't ever think we do that. I explained that to him. If you're mad at somebody or you're disappointed in somebody, sometimes you raise your voice, sometimes you get mad. Hopefully when you take the emotion out of things -- which is why we try not to do a lot of things through emotion -- then you come up with, 'OK, how do we make this better?' That's how we always try to approach it. And we got there today."

There is still no definitive timetable for when Matsuzaka will return to the rotation. But Francona said the team might have a better idea early next week, when Dice-K travels from Fort Myers, Fla., to St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox will be playing a two-game series against the Rays.

Francona again wanted to make it clear that the Red Sox will give Matsuzaka more freedom to throw at his own pace in between starts once he is in the physical condition to do so.

"We do not discourage him from throwing as long as his shoulder can handle it," Francona said. "He likes the touch and the feel -- the repetition, which, I understand, he has to be able to handle that physically or it doesn't do him any good. [Otherwise,] he's going to regress, his shoulder is going to become weaker, he's going to go from an area where our medical people know he's asking for trouble so when it gets to that point, we don't let him.

"We've had to shut him down, we've had to cut his throwing back, and we told him if he shows up and he is in shape and his shoulder is strong, we will not get in the way of his throwing. That's where we're at with him, and he understands it. Now it's his responsibility to be that so he can throw."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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